Fight to Live:
As we were driving down the red, dusty roads of Kayonza, Rwanda, our Country Director Egide turned to me and said, “There is a group of women that has requested to meet with us.” Although this was a common occurrence, I had no idea what was really in store for the Kula Project.
A few days passed, and it was time for our meeting. We pulled up to 48 women sitting on hand-carved wooden stools awaiting our arrival. After hiking up the small hill, we proceeded to greet each woman with a traditional Rwandan handshake.
Shortly afterwards, a woman named Shantal stood up and began to share the group’s story. She said the name of their cooperation was Turwane K’ubuzima which translates to “Fight to Live.” All of the women are living with HIV/AIDS, most of them having contracted it during the 1994 Genocide, and they desperately needed help earning a sustainable income. We learned that they started a savings circle, giving them the funds they needed to buy a piece of land – which explained why they had invited us to meet them.
The Fight to Live Cooperative wanted to turn their newly purchased land into a coffee farm, and they asked us for help. When we asked them why coffee, Shantal, a woman in the co-op said,
“We want our children to be able to go to school. The income from this land will guarantee that.” Coffee trees will produce income for more than thirty years.
She told us that the women had signed contracts naming successors to their portions of the trees and income should they succumb to their disease before their children finish school, so no matter what, these coffee trees could fund an education.
We partnered with an incredible company called See Beautiful to invest in the women of Fight to Live. In October, they cleared their land and planted 1,000 coffee trees. Since then, they have started a new savings circle to expand their property and create a bigger farm. Kula is thrilled to be a part of this story and join them in the next phase of their work.